Friday, December 01, 2006
I feel a headache coming on. Here's today's can of worms, brought to us by our readers:
(regarding St. Rose of Lima) But it always seemed to me that rubbing one's face with pepper and wearing a crown of thorns was self-aggrandizing; as if to say, "Look how holy I am! I'm suffering!"; after all, didn't Jesus say the hypocrites do as much? And aren't our bodies a gift from God that we're supposed to take good care of?
The thing is, KatDee, the saints weren't self-aggrandizing. They were very, very sneaky about their suffering. They wore spikes under their clothes and tried not to limp so no one would know they had tuberculosis in their hips.
St. Rose of Lima was aware that if her beauty caused boys to have...bad thoughts...she was causing them to sin, which by the way, is a sin on her. Somebody needs to explain this to Brittany Spears, post haste. I bring this up when I'd rather soak my brain in Palmolive dish soap than even mention it, because it's pertinent to our other two questions:
I think I remember a saint who wrote that it is possible to live out some of your purgatory before death...I can't remember exactly who, maybe St. Catherine? Is this called being a penitent? or a "victim soul"?
I think being a "victim soul" is for OTHER peoples' time in purgatory, not your own...but correct me if I'm wrong - and I'm sure Sister will.
I have a sense that God doesn't deal with measuring out much except justice.
I forgot all about "victim souls". I suppose it's good to be reminded, but it really can be a head spinner. Here goes.
I'm not so sure you can 'live out' some of your own purgatory time. It may be that some saint had some mystic message that said as much, but we may ignore anyone's personal revelations at our own discretion. I do believe that if you've had to suffer your whole life and you've managed to do that and offered it up and maintained a rosy disposition when you spent your life the color of unbleached flour, maybe you are spared the suffering of purgatory. But it's not my call. who knows what you were thinking behind your grin.
It's perfectly legitimate to offer up your prayers and sufferings for yourself for when you get to purgatory. That's part of the doctrine of indulgences. (Indulgences give you time off of your purgatory sentence, although since purgatory is outside of time there is no time in purgatory.)
Personally, it bugs me. It's like eating a hoagie in front of a starving man. The only excuse I can think of for racking up a boatload of indulgences to be used exclusively for yourself would be that you somehow believe there will be no Catholics left to pray you out of there after you're dead. I realize that everyone always believes that the world has never been worse than it is right now, and so must end at any moment, but history has proven them wrong.
Next point: a penitent is anyone who is doing penance, anyone who is sorry for their sins. Me, for example. All practicing Catholics. Probably Michael Richards. Obviously not Britney Spears.
The victim soul is a person chosen by God to suffer for the reparation of sins. That would definitely be all the saints who had the stigmata.
For some reason I think we often overlook the fact that the stigmata, while symbolic of the wounds of Christ on the cross, is in no way symbolic to the stigmatist. Bleeding painful puncture wounds are not symbolic if you have them.
So we have Padre Pio suffering for the sins of Brittany Spears, so to speak. Francis of Assisi taking on Ted Haggert's ilk.
The question that remains for me is this: does the victim soul choose back? Does the victim soul have to have the stigmata to be a victim soul? No, I don't think he does. He just has to be chosen by God to suffer. So....if the person has endless bad health, some awful disease, paralysis, whatever... can the person then 'become' a victim soul by offering it all up for the reparation of sin?
I imagine that the title 'victim soul' is a title like 'genius' in that you don't get to call yourself one. But you could certainly shoot for it.
But get this straight: we're not talking about when your feet hurt while you're standing too long in the gift wrap line. We're talking about getting cut in half by a train and living to tell the tale.
It does all give me a headache, as the whole idea of reparation gives me a headache because there is so much to repair and I worry about who crunches the numbers on this and if there's any hope of it ever coming out even.
I guess I'll do my bit and skip the Tylenol. Maybe make some brownies.